By Allan Lengel
WASHINGTON – In the line of duty deaths for law enforcement officers jumped 20 percent in the first half of 2009 after hitting a 50-year low during the same period a year ago, according to a report released Sunday by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) and Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.).
Specifically, 66 law enforcement officers died between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2009, compared to 55 during the same period last year. All were men. Among those who died on duty was Detroit FBI agent Paul Sorce. He was killed in a car crash in March.
Even with this year’s upswing, the law enforcement organization said the 2009 figures still represented the second lowest total since 1965.
“While it is encouraging that officer fatalities remain comparatively low, the 2009 figures do present some cause for concern,” said NLEOMF chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd in a press release.
“Officers continue to face serious threats from armed offenders who don’t think twice about opening fire on law enforcement. That was tragically illustrated by the horrific multiple-death incidents this year in Oakland, Pittsburgh and Okaloosa County, Florida,” he said.
“Those dangers, coupled with the fact that far too many law enforcement officers are dying on our roadways in traffic-related incidents, many of which involve drunk drivers, show that we still have a long way to go in ensuring that our officers can do their jobs as safely and effectively as possible.”